Escaping with work

Sometimes my job is awesome.

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I got to spend the whole day outside in this gorgeous place and sneak a bit of these amazing olives and delicious cheese during a meeting. I know it’s my job but sometimes it feels too special to just be work! Even though the project is just an hour outside of Mendoza city, it can feel worlds away. To top it all off, the day was made even better by these kittens!

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But really. Have you ever seen anything cuter? The project’s caretaker has a little farm and it seems like every time we visit there’s a new baby animal to play with! My heart was broken because my extreme allergies meant I couldn’t cuddle one but it was still a magical experience.

What else can I tell you? We’ve been having some unreal sunsets lately.

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What did you all do for St. Patrick’s day? I went to a bar down the block that was surprisingly packed. Who knew Argentine’s loved green and beer (and sometimes green beer) so much? Seriously though, this was more filled up than anything we saw on Christmas or New Years! It was a really fun night and it felt so great sitting outside now that temperatures have cooled down a bit here in the southern hemisphere.

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Nothing crazy has been going on with my meals lately. A lot of repeats BUT I bought tofu! I had to order it from a health food store and it finally came. I’ll update you on the results tomorrow but hopefully tofu doesn’t vary too much from country to country!

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Hunting for quinoa

Lining up for the sprint at Rally de las Bodegas

Happy Sunday everyone!

This week has been pretty good to me. I’ve had a decent amount of energy and I’ve definitely been kept busy between my two job, starting this blog, and all the daily activities of life. On Thursday, Mateo and I went to the opening day of Rally de las Bodegas, or The Wineries Rally, which began with a sprint. We met the organizers through work and they told us about the race which we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. It was way cooler than expected. See, I am  New Yorker through and through and I never learned to drive because I never really had to. Suffice it to say, I’m not exactly a car connoisseur but even I was blown away by these cars! Some were from the twenties and I was immediately transported to Downton Abbey haha. Others were sleek sports cars but all of them were unique and fun to look at.

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Number two–my favorite

After the race we headed home and made an epic seven-layer bowl. I told you before, I can’t get enough of the Mexican flavors and I don’t see an end in sight. In fact I just found cilantro at the Central Market today so I think you’ll be seeing more of the same soon. Sorry in advance! But really how good does this look…

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From bottom to top: rice, black beans (simmered for four hours…I kid you not…with onion and chili pepper), cheese, spicy salsa, guacamole, plain fat-free yogurt (as satisfying as sour cream!), and homemade hot sauce. Mmmmm. This was a huge bowl and I devoured every bite of it. I slept well last night and I think I have this insane bowl of food to thank.

Today breakfast was eggs plus left over beans and guac but I decided to get more creative with lunch. This afternoon I whipped together a quick quinoa salad. Now, let me tell you about this quinoa that I finally got my hands on. In a land of potatoes and more potatoes, where rice isn’t even very popular, I never thought I would get to eat quinoa! I knew that a few health food stores sold it in Mendoza somewhere but I couldn’t  justify the price so I kept my blinders on and didn’t try to find it. Well, now that we’re making a bit more money I decided to treat myself to some. It was glorious. Once the quinoa was ready I mixed it with one large tomato, one avocado, half a can of garbanzo beans, a drizzle of olive oil, juice from half a lemon, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of cilantro. It turned out wonderfully and was the perfect bright and healthy lunch! Worth every penny (and it wasn’t even that expensive after all).

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Today is going to be a lazy Sunday. Mateo and I had to work yesterday for more than 12 hours so I’m ready to relax the day away. Hope you can too!

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Sometimes you just need things spicy

IMG_2326I’ve been trying to step back more and reflect on my life here in Argentina, especially because I don’t know exactly how much longer I’ll be living here. Most days I get so caught up in my To Do list and the small everyday things that I forget how insanely awesome it is to be living in another country. I feel so privileged to be welcomed here by strangers, to be greeted by my neighbors, and to have people patiently listen to me while I piece together a sentence in Spanish. Sometimes Mendoza is just a city to me and other days I am able to step back and see how beautiful the tree-lined streets are and be greatful that I’ve gotten to know this little corner of the world. To anyone who has the chance to live in another country…do it!

Things have been relatively low key the past few days. One of my English students has left to go spend some time working in France and she won’t be back for a month. I was seeing her a couple of times a week so my schedule has definitely freed up a bit but I still have a lot to do for the tourism project we are a part of. Yesterday was fully of meetings but it was productive and nice being out of the house for most of the day.

Food hasn’t been the most interesting over here. Two nights ago I cooked this big pot of red sauce:

IMG_3616Just kidding. That was from the Italian festival in Plaza Italia about a week ago. Love those big pots! What I’ve actually been craving and cooking is Mexican food. The other night this happened:

IMG_3668Spicy salsa and guacamole. Mateo actually made this guacamole. I prefer my mine a bit chunkier with tomato and onion in it but he likes his pretty simple. Which do you prefer? No complaints though, it was delicious and approximately 100x better than any ‘Mexican’ food you can find here. We paired these babies with some quesadillas. Charred corn, pepper, and cheese for me and chicken and cheese for him.

About three weeks ago I went to a fruit and vegetable stand about a block from my house and inquired about hot peppers. Argentines do not have a high spice tolerance. In fact, it seems like a little sprinkle of black pepper is just about all they can take but I thought this guy might have some connections. Turns out I was right. They didn’t have any at the moment (because who the heck would buy them?!) but the owner told me he could bring me some the next day. I asked for half a kilo because I wanted to make hot sauce, and because I have trouble envisioning how much that is, but when I went to pick them up the next day he was holding a giant bag the size of my head. One whole kilo’s worth of hot, and I mean, hot peppers! The price was basically the same for a whole kilo and a half so I couldn’t really complain but, wow, it was a lot. One large batch of hot sauce later and we still have peppers to last us for months!

IMG_3660Breakfasts have been good lately and I’ve been perfecting the poached egg. This photo shows a pretty typical meal. Mateo makes bomb home fries ( small cubes of potatoes that you crisp up with olive oil and butter is the key) and I’m usually in charge of the eggs. Fyi, the dollop on top of is the homemade hot sauce. Picante! I should probably time the eggs because sometime they don’t come out as runny as I’d like but I’m the least precise cook ever. It’s pretty funny because we get a lot of comments about our breakfasts. In Argentina breakfast equals a small bread called a torta with a tiny coffee or mate but I cannot shake the egg habit. About two weeks ago we cooked our roommate, Mariana, a traditional American breakfast and she was loving it. She’s already requested another one so I think we might have converted her!

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Welcome to Mendoza everyone

As this blog’s title suggests, I love traveling because I love eating. Half the reason I love going to new places is because I get to experience and taste delicious food from around the world. When I think of traveling I think of trying to order food while stumbling over words like “mohinga” and “lephet thoke”, I think of exciting tastes, and most of all I think of shared meals. When my boyfriend, Mateo, and I traveled to Asia in early 2013 I got to try some of the most divine, spicy, and inexpensive food that I’d ever had. Every day I woke up looking forward to the bowl of noodles I would inevitably be eating and I was seriously in food heaven. I probably overdosed on MSG but it was totally worth every delicious, umami bite.

 

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                    Noodles in Japan

When Mateo and I were thinking of where we wanted to live next, we knew we wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country (with delicious food, of course) and we knew that we couldn’t afford Europe. Bye, bye dreams of Spain and paella! But how exactly did we decide on Argentina? When we were in Thailand we met the sweetest couple from Argentina:  Martin and Ceci. They were well into the second-half of their year-long trip around the world and we spent hours talking with them in the lobby of our hostel. When Mateo and I mentioned that we had plans to live in a Spanish-speaking countrythey begin telling us more about Argentina, a country that we hadn’t considered beforehand. While they did mentioned some potential downsides to living their now (namely the economy), what I caught my attention the most was how they lit up when they spoke about what it was like to grow up there, the country’s expansiveness, and all the things they missed. It was obvious that this couple’s enthusiasm for life and their warmness said something about Argentine people as a whole.

Once we returned back to the U.S. We started planning and decided to try our luck living in Mendoza, Argentina the hometown of Martin and the fourth-largest city in Argentina. Martin’s family generously offered to host us for the first two weeks of our visit while we looked for an apartment and for jobs, despite the fact that we had spent no more than 3 hours with their son. Their hospitality meant so much to us our first few days and we would have been much more overwhelmed without a home-cooked meal to come back to every day. Argentines are incredibly genuine and when they say they would love to have you stay with them or that they want to have a asado with you, not only do they mean it but they also make it happen. The first week was a whirlwind of apartment and job hunting. It was also when I started to realize that the food here wasn’t going to be quite what I had expected…

Truthfully, I didn’t do too much research about Argentine cuisine before I came. The summer went by with astounding speed and before I knew it Mateo and I were on a plane to Buenos Aires. Of course, I knew that Argentine the place for beef but that didn’t deter me too much. After all, it was South America! There had to be spice and beans and rice at the very least. Right? Right?! Well, not exactly…

Navigating Argentine cuisine has been quite the challenge but instead of giving up and having French fries for dinner every night, I decided to embrace the challenge. I’ve spent more time in the kitchen these past six months than I think I have in the past six years. Although I am most certainly a cooking novice, at least a few delicious morsels have come out of my dingy kitchen. This blog is for me to share some of these creations as well as my tasty adventures abroad as a twenty-something trying to figure out what’s next.

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